Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Anglican Communion News Service: ABM welcomes change to the Marks of Mission

I was present for part of the debate about this change to the 5 Marks of Mission. (I was only allowed in if I sat very quietly, didn't approach any of the ACC members, in case I disturbed this weighty debate. I was initially told I could not hear any of it.)

It is a good addition. I am also really interested in how the ABM in Australia interpret these. 

I wonder how we as church stack up to these?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Israeli Deadly Force Breaks Rules | Stuff.co.nz

I read this article yesterday. It is such a sad article. I feel so hopeless in the face of it. And anger. 
Strangley my anger is not at the young Israelis who pull the trigger. It is for those who continue to pursue policies of violence and hate within the Israele electorate. As Israel continues to vote for parties who are only interested in ongoing violence and oppression of the Palestinian people, they continue to put 18 and 19 year olds on the front line, holding powerful automatic weapons, facing a rage born out of hopelessness. Tragically, young people on both sides are the loosers. And there seems to be nothing anyone can or wants to do about this. It seems the settlers have won the day. More land will be stolen off the Palestinian people. The two state solution will soon be inpractical. And young people will die, and be traumatised by being the killers. Such stupidity.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mission Statements and such



 Gate Pa – Epiphany 3 2013
Readings:
First Reading               Neh 8:1-3,5-6,8-10 
Second Reading          1 Cor 12: 12-31a
Psalm:                                     19
Gospel:                                    Luke 4:14-21

What I want to say:
Explore how we might read this statement of Jesus in Luke 4,
            not read it as a mission statement (as I used to understand that phrase, and as I have read this passage)
            but as the way Luke invites us to understand Jesus the Word
            where we are to look on-going work God today
            as a way we are to understand ourselves as people of God today. (not what to do, but who we are)

What I want to happen:
People to continue to be shaped as people God, living out incarnation amongst people of these communities
Continue to grow into results of our work last year – “Initiate conversations about living incarnationally in our streets.”

The Sermon

     1.      Introduction:

old job – helping parishes develop mission statements and strategic plans
        mission statement describe their role,
Gate Pa Mission Statement
To bring all people to God and to unite
each other in Christ
-          strategic plans help parishioners commit themselves to mission statement,
o   and develop ways for parish to live that out
Last year’s parish meeting about engaging with our community
decided that we would “Initiate conversations about living incarnationally in our streets.”
when we decided that
thought – who can write strategic plan about that
terrible
        really woolly

      2.      Modernity and mission statements

Last week I talked a little bit about modernity
how we are no longer in this time
            and are now in an in between time
            know what we have left, just not sure what is next
church developed in modernity no longer works
one great thinkers who shaped modernity was Isaac Newton
Scientist - physicist
described universe like machine
a lot of his thinking still shapes our understand universe today
provided the lens by which we made sense of everything
he said
want understand universe
need pull it apart
identify building blocks, - smallest parts,
find out how worked,
and then put it all back together
universe was sum of all its parts
once understand parts, how they work, you can predict what will happen when any one of those parts is changed
everything in universe seen in same light
machine like
predictable
controllable.
thinking not only applied to science
also applied just about every area human endeavour
one of defining patterns of modernity
But - no longer way physicists describe universe
while is high level mathematical elegance to universe
also uncertainty
nor is universe seen as sum of its parts -
universe now seen greater than sum of its parts
Newton’s thinking still colours a lot of our thinking
last year news frenzy about CERN particle accelerator– we had discovered that smallest thing – now all will be revealed
Except it wont
also been applied economics
if understand component parts economy,
predict what will happen if any components change
current financial crisis teaches us all not as predictable as we thought
sadly
way seeing world also applied human organisations, like church
that thinking gave rise to mission statements and strategic plans
organisation, like church , made up individuals
you and me
when get people to commit to an overarching cause or idea (mission statement)
develop strategic plan allow leaders to plan and predict what will happen
organise life organisation around that mission statement
trouble is
never really worked
people are not like cogs machine
choose not line up with mission statement
get way too busy with work, family, health, life
why am I talking about all this
passage heard from Luke is often described as Jesus mission statemnt
given everything I’ve just said, how are we to read Luke 4 now?

      3.      Luke

last week heard from John who begins Jesus ministry wedding at Cana with a bit wine making
this week back to Luke,
for Luke - this is the beginning of Jesus ministry
            no wedding at Cana
baptised – spirit descends on him
goes out wilderness – tested
come back out – no angels looking after him – just has to man up
filled with power spirit
begins go synagogues and preach – gets a bit of a reputation
goes home
where grown up
Learnt read (pretty unusual thing)
where he had heard Isaiah as grown up and through his adulthood
he is asked to read
so he chooses this passage
interestingly - this passage does not exist as Luke records it
mostly Is 61.1 and 2
-          misses out bit about Year of Lord also being the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
bit Is 58: 6 (to let the oppressed go)
Luke get it wrong?
was Nazareth scroll faulty?
neither
Luke is very deliberate how he writes this story
This passage contains very important themes for Luke
key themes in understanding who Jesus is
            Spirit
            anointing
The Poor – which the passage further describes
Luke is announcing that Jesus is the one who does the work of God’s spirit,
He was anointed by  the spirit to proclaim the coming of God’s reign,
reign of liberation
we hear echoes of these themes in sermon on Mount
same themes reappear in Jesus answer to John query as to whether Jesus really is the one
same themes that acted out in story of Nativity,
and freedom songs sung through that story
whole gospel is how Jesus lived this out
themes that captured longings of God’s people
capture longings of so many people
            then and now
So here we have Jesus
lived in poor village up north
he is one of the poor
deliberately searches out this text from Isaiah
proclaims “the year of the Lord's favour”
50th year
year of Jubilee
debts that left poor landless are forgiven
land is restored to those who have lost it
those who have accumulated land have to give it back
            no recompense
where everything begins again
God’s justice prevails
Jesus says to poor people Nazareth
with all their longings and hopes
 "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."  

      4.      So What

pretty important passage for Luke,
fair say, he understood this pretty important passage for Jesus
Jesus used this piece from Isaiah to understand who he was
this is the lens by which Jesus, according to Luke,
and Luke ,
made sense of everything
lens used to interpret his experience of God
lens used make sense of how he was to live this out
this is much much more than a mission statement
            simply about his role
this is about who Jesus is (ontology)
Jesus is the one who does the work of God’s spirit
who brings about God’s reign of justice

      5.      The Poor

Luke offers us this passage to be the lens by which we see the world
lens by which we make sense of Jesus
of ourselves
how to live our lives in response
2 things then note
a. mustn’t spiritualise this away
in Luke
Jesus ministry set among poor Palestine
he proclaimed and lived good news for poor
            not poor in spirit
            but the poor
need to take hold of that – because Luke understood Jesus to be good news for the poor
the real poor
everywhere
every age

      6.      Hearing

b. need to hear that “"Today this scripture has been fulfilled in our hearing."  
to hear is to do more hear sound
it is to receive what is being said
Centuries we in West heard Isaac Newton’s understanding of the universe
we were shaped by it
lens through which we heard and saw everything
this morning we are to hear these words of Isaiah
to hear means to be be shaped,
that they become the lens through which we hear and see everything
when we truly hear these words,
we like Jesus begin to shaped and defined by them
as we were by Newtons thoughts
we begin, like Jesus, to live them out
when we hear these words,
when we internalise these words
when we let these words shape us
we join the mission of God
Work of the Spirit continues

7.      Conclusion

brings us back to last year’s parish meeting about engaging with our community
live incarnationally
is really woolly idea
one of best things ever heard parish meeting come up with.
exactly what todays is about
live incarnationally means
truly hear these words from Luke this morning
and to  join risen Christ on-going work Spirit
where would we be mostly likely to see on-going work Spirit
Luke says
where good news brought to the poor.
release proclaimed to the captives
the blind see,
oppressed go free,
where the year of the Lord's favour is proclaimed."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The faithful and joyous reception of God’s word



Prayer for the Day
In you, O Lord our God,
we find our joy,
for through your law and your prophets
you formed a people in mercy and freedom,
in justice and righteousness.
Pour your Spirit on us today,
that we who are Christ’s body
may bear the good news of your ancient promises to all.
This we ask through Christ, the way.
Amen.


Theme for the day
Howard Wallace[1] describes today’s readings as being “about both the faithful and joyous reception of God’s word seen in the people, and about the faithful proclamation and interpretation of that word to the people….”
Psalm 19 celebrates the ancient and silent Word shouting God’s glory in all creation,  and finishes focusing on the "law of the Lord." Nehemiah tells the story of  Ezra and the Levites reading the law those returned from exile. Luke has that Word present in the life, action and teaching of Jesus.
Wallace goes on to say, “Finally, we note the response of the people to the word. In Psalm 19 the psalmist celebrates the word of God, as perceived first in ‘nature’, and second as it is understood in the written law or torah. It is sweeter than honey, more desirable than fine gold etc. That same love of the law appears in Nehemiah 8. It is the people who first love the law. They urge Ezra to read the law (v. 1), they are attentive (v. 3), and according to the Hebrew of v. 4, they build the platform for Ezra to use for his reading. Ezra does not force the law upon them, they desire to hear and understand it… On this holy day, the ‘joy of the Lord is (the people’s) strength.’ The way in which the law is relevant and applicable to the people of Ezra’s time is part of the joy to be found in it. Similar joy is found in the Psalmist’s exquisite words of praise for the law in Psalm 19, and in the amazement of the people who heard Jesus’ proclamation (Luke 4:22).... In this combination (of faithful proclamation and interpretation), the fruitful joy, amazement, and worship that God’s word engenders comes forth. The word of God, however we understand the phrase, comes to life. The emphasis in the passage is not on some abstract reverence for the ‘law of Moses’. It is about the life-giving, renewing, releasing, freeing, sight-giving nature of God’s word, the joy that it can engender, and the joy of wanting to hear it. These are suitable words to hear in this season of Epiphany when we celebrate the presence of God’s word in Jesus present with us.”[2]


[1] http://hwallace.unitingchurch.org.au/index.html
[2] ibid.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Map writing with John



 Gate Pa – Epiphany 2 – 2013

Readings:

Hebrew Scripture:      Isa 62: 1-5 
Psalm:                         Psalm: 36: 5-10          
Epistle:                        1 Cor 12: 1-11
Gospel:                        John 2:1-11     

What I want to say:

we live in a time when all maps that told us how to be a successful church no longer work
need to draw new maps
to do that we need to begin with the story of Jesus.

What I want to happen:

people to be willing to let go of how church was, and start to talk about how we are invited to be church now
people to have hope in a God who is committed to us
People to read scripture anew with fresh eyes.

The Sermon

      1.      Introduction:

Wilma’s funeral – lovely celebration of special life
Thank all you made service and afternoon tea so successful
Privileged to be invited to burial
            Maps in head said go to Pyes Pa
            Conversation with +George – in town -> saw hearse turn right
Rising levels anxiety
not know where go
not know how find out where to go

      2.      Missional Mapping

reading Missional Map-making by Alan Roxburgh
only 1/3rd through
maps used understand how to be church no longer work
            keep pointing to wrong place
            like me Thursday
            no idea how work out where going
maps based particular way seeing world
every now and then, way see world shifts
maps no longer work
example offers Galileo
            most western Europe up to C17th say earth centre universe

            ignored work Copernicus

sun and all planets revolved around us
much bigger consequences than just science
affected how saw selves relation to God
how church understood to be God’s representative
Galileo came along said – sun is centre, not us.
suddenly a people took that more seriously
maps made sense of world didn’t work any more
church fought hard old world view and old maps
tried heresy – lived final years in house arrest
as people embraced work Copernicus and Galileo
found needed new maps
didn’t know what new maps look like
in what Roxburgh calls – in between time

      3.      Successful Church

we live in in between time
when old maps no longer work
discuss
what makes successful church?
how do we go about being that?
trouble all those is that don’t work any more
difficult place to be for us all
want this to work
but it won’t
time draw new maps

      4.      Isaiah

not alone
people God been here before
couple of todays readings give us some clues how to write new maps
book Isaiah –written for people in “in between times”
actually three books
all written in “in between times” just like we are in today
1st is work actual prophet - Isaiah – C8th –Assyria destroyed Israel, crushed Syria
            Judah became vassal state Assyria- with all uncertainty came with
maps starting not to work

chapter 40 – 55 written much later, when ruling class of Judah in Babylon – exile
            in foreign land
serving foreign king
Jersualem gone
no longer temple
maps based how to be God’s people no longer work
needed new maps
face that person/school reinterpreted prophecies Isaiah to make sense new situation

what heard this morning comes that “3rd Isaiah?”
third section – 3rd Isaiah 56—66
written for people returned find
Jerusalem destroyed
temple wrecked
priests scattered
remnant living there defeated
maps no longer work again
again person/school reinterpreted word Isaiah for this new place
seek rebuild hope, rebuild faith
rekindle their imagination as to who they are as God’s people
likens people to bride, and God bridgroom

      5.      Isaiah and marriage

talked last week about what gets in way reading scripture
one things is that we bring C21st world view
hear marriage, hear celebration of Love
even some commentators talk about this passage in terms God’s love
good thing know God loves us
but not sure that is really what this passage is about.
Bishop Riah – autobiography
when time get married
sought advice who would be good choice
went parish priest
together went parent young woman and began negotiate marriage agreement
not about love
who do I want to commit myself to rest life?
partnership
This is what this passage is about
God’s absolute commitment to us
God’s partnership with us
God’s presence among us
God’s delight with us
these are strong images for people in an in between place
where maps no longer make sense
no idea where to begin making new maps 
people like us 

      6.      The Word

second reading that gives some clues is gospel reading
last week talked about what gets in way really reading scripture
            so familiar with it don’t really pay attention
            read it with smooshed together story in our heads, don’t hear actually reading
miss things
First of Jesus signs
miss that this first time mother Jesus appears in John’s gospel (never names her)
miss that John doesn’t talk about miracles but signs
miss that John in particular, (also all gospel writers)
            if you want to understand (as much as we are able) God, and God’s creation
starting point is Jesus
John begins great prologue
prologue talks about “the Word”
            how understand “the Word”?
-          creative word of Genesis?
-          Greek philosophical Word - Logos, template by which all created
maybe neither
cannot apply that theology or philosophy to Jesus
cannot apply any theology or philosophy to Jesus
Story Jesus in base on which theology and philosophy developed
Gospels are lens through which read
Throw away all preconceived notions about who God is
who we are in relation to God
start with Jesus
the Word
John also wrote in an in between time
Christianity had been a Jewish sect
            had maps that told them how to make that work
now temple gone
Jerusalem fallen
centre Christianity moved Antioch
increasingly non Jewish converts
no maps for this
had write new maps
old ways of reading scripture no longer worked
john says
start with Jesus
that is invitation to us today

acknowledge maps no longer work
start again – become map writers
starting with Jesus
one took means by which rid ourselves of impurities gathered from others
turned it into symbol of great feast where all invited